When you're in the market for a new pet, you'll quickly discover that animals are expensive. Even if you live somewhere that your cat can go hunting on her own, or your dog can walk himself on your property, your new furry friend will cost you quite a bit of cash in vet fees, proper care, and even initial cost. That said, there are ways you can go about acquiring a free pet, instead of shelling out dough to bring somebody into your family; just remember that you'll still need to look at the vet fees and registration costs that come with getting a new animal.
If you know anyone in your neighborhood or circle of friends, you could adopt from someone who is moving and can't afford to take their pet with them. These animals are often very well loved and the owners don't want to give them up, but without a new loving home to go to, they're stuck in cold, impersonal shelters and forgotten. You can change that fate by offering your home as a refuge for an animal that would otherwise have to be abandoned.
While craigslist may not be the best place to find a legitimate pet, you can check out other free exchange sites, such as your local Freecycle network. Because these are more intentionally run by people who care about free items with scams, it's likely you can trust any pet notifications uploaded to the boards. Just be sure you get the scoop on what shots they've had, what supplies come with them, and any special needs they may have.
Found a pet at your local shelter you'd love to adopt, but can't afford the adoption fee? See if you can get the fee waived by volunteering. Some shelters offer their volunteers free adoptions, since they are run on volunteer power and want to see their animals off to good homes, so if this is a route you'd like to go, just sign up for some volunteer hours and work off your pet. This is a great way to get your pet, because you get to interact with him or her prior to taking her home, and you can give the other animals some love too!
Some animals find you! In the city, where strays and feral animals run rampant, you may encounter a particularly friendly street animal that seems to adopt you -- and, if you feel it's safe, you can do the same. If you pick up an animal off the streets, though, the first thing you'll need to do is take it to a vet and make sure it does not have any diseases you could be accidentally taking home to your family.
Though it's unlikely you'll find a new kitten or puppy at a garage sale, you can still get some great deals at these secondhand sales! Check out GarageSaleCow.com for some listings near you.